Thursday, September 23, 2004

bell questions

1. When Bell talks about the diffusion of technology, the job seems to be in the hands of the bureaucracy, both corporate and political. Where's the little guy in all of this, the invisible labor? Is there room for individual agency in the process of diffusion?

2. Bell hints at a changing class structure as a result of the shifting social structure, positing scientists and professional technical workers as a potential new ruling class and education as the basis of social mobility. At the same time, Bell undervalues the power, prestige, and status that come with wealth, providing the examples that wealth doesn't lead to prestige and political power doesn't guarantee wealth. However, it seems that we're no closer to post-capitalism than we were when the book was published and the class system seems as inflexible and influential as ever. Much of Bell's forecasting has proven shockingly accurate. However, I would suggest that when Bell's forecasts were off base, they were off base because he neglected to acknowledge the strength and resilience of class structure in America.

I'm boiling any weaknesses in his forecasting primarily down to this one thing and wondering whether this is simplistic, controversial, or just a big old 'duh.' Whaddya think?

3. In Bell's post-industrial society, scientists outweigh even the other professional/technical elites in terms of importance, and even in status. In the conclusion, however, he admits that it is "not the power to say 'yes' or 'no' which is where real power lies." What are some ways this group (I hesitate to call them a class) might infiltrate the bureacracy to get that power? Is that a desired part of their group's role? Would science and technology benefit or suffer from such a shift of power?

1 comment:

Dorothea said...

Heh. I knew there was a reason I didn't read your questions before I wrote mine. Your question 2 is about the same as (though better-expressed than) my question 2.